The Penguins and Capitals collided in a very spirited and entertaining ice hockey contest at CONSOL Energy Center Sunday afternoon that had the intensity and urgency of a playoff contest.
It took an overtime period to decide a winner, but in the end it was the Pens winning their sixth straight contest in a 4-3 final behind center Evgeni Malkin
’s overtime-winning tally.
"We played hard, it was everyone," Malkin said of his line. "We know how to play. Before the game we talked about how to play every line. We know what they do and how we play. Play in the offensive zone, shoot pucks and we got three good goals."
The Pens struck quickly in the first period with two goals 1:01 apart from Kris Letang
and James Neal
to stake out to a 2-0 lead. The Caps battled back, scoring twice in the second period to tie the score, 2-2. Washington’s Alex Ovechkin gave his team a 3-2 lead with a goal 1:08 into the third period.
“We lost a little bit of our focus,” defenseman Kris Letang
said. “We got off of our game a little bit. But like in previous games we found a way to win. We found a way to get our focus back and play the game.”
"We just stayed positive on the bench," James Neal
said. "'Geno” wants the puck and wants to do good things with it. He definitely didn’t want to lose and I don’t think anybody did and it showed after they scored that go head goal. We came back right after that and potted one ourselves and kept going."
But the Pens stormed back, tying the game six minutes later on Neal’s second score of the game, setting the stage for Malkin’s overtime heroics.
"They're a big line for us right now," Letang said of Chris Kunitz
, Malkin and Neal. "They come up big every night. Last game to get the tying goal. This time to get the tying goal and winning goal. They've been playing really well. I don't what to say about Malkin. He's just unbelievable right now. He's been playing the best hockey I've ever seen."
There are no words fitting enough to describe the play of Malkin and Neal right now (not to forget Chris Kunitz
’s contributions). Malkin scored the game-winner in overtime while adding two assist. Neal notched two goals (giving him 26 on the season – tied with Malkin for third most in the NHL) and assisted on Malkin’s winner.
Malkin, the NHL’s leading scorer with 58 points (26G-32A) now has a goal in six straight games to tie the best goal-scoring stretch of his career, and has 11 goals in the last nine games.
More on the duo here.
Pens defenseman Kris Letang
scored the game’s opening goal just eight second into a power play.
Letang kept a clearing attempt from escaping the zone. He then carried the puck to the midpoint and unleashed a heavy slap shot through a perfect screen (kudos Chris Kunitz
) that sailed into the net.
"He’s a significant player back in our lineup," head coach Dan Bylsma said. "We’re more dangerous offensively, we’re more dangerous with the way we play speed wise, the execution that we need to have, allows us to play that way. Our power play I think is more dangerous, the way we saw him shoot the puck. But I think over looked is our defending ability and how we can defend and play against other teams’ top lines and get pucks going the other way. He can do that against the best players in the league."
Letang, who missed 21 games with a concussion and broken nose, has four points (2G-2A) and scored in each of his three games played since returning to the lineup.
Author: Sam Kasan